My how cable has changed what we expect from television these days. From reality television to gritty cinematic dramas; we are just not entertained the same way anymore. ABC's American Crime is made for our new sensibilities in what great programming should be. And for the most part it delivers as promised.
When I first heard about this show I was thinking this was going to be a knock off of HBO's True Detective. Not necessarily a bad thing if done the right way. And when I found out the show was created by John Ridley from “12 Years a Slave” fame I was ready to drink the Kool Aid. Deep down I feared the network would make it too sweet. I don't like my Kool Aid or my drama that way. I want it to be unexpected. American Crime partially delivers on the promise of concocting the perfect blend.
Timothy Hutton and Felicity Huffman who play the parents of the murder victim are perfect in their roles. They have created complex and nuanced human beings who are wonderful to watch. They have hit their roles so far out the park no one else in this ensemble is even close to catching up to the level of craft they display on the show. That visible difference in the strength of the cast is American Crime’s greatest weakness.
The white characters in this show are fully developed people, there human. The latino and black characters are not so lucky. They come off as symbols, first of crime and later of the system that jails them. Never do they rise above their type; never fully realized. Or so I thought.
As I was watching the show I started to believe John Ridley is really playing on our perception of what crime actually is in America. Maybe the minorities were supposed to be a little bit more faceless; mirroring the society we currently find ourselves in. The end of the first episode rewarded my theory. Only time will tell if American Crime will be able to stand on par with some of the great drama cable has been delivering for years. I’ve seen enough from the first episode to stay around and find out.